America’s military gap isn’t shrinking—technology is too far ahead
(Mark Beeson, University of Queensland, 11/26/4, paper for symposium on Bush and Asia: America’s Evolving Relations with East Asia, Brisbane, “American ascendancy: Conceptualizing contemporary hegemony,” p. 13-14, http://espace.library.uq.edu.au/eserv.php?pid=UQ:10021&dsID=mb_am_asc_04.pdf, Accessed 7/30/14, JC)
One of the most distinctive aspects of America's strategic position is its unprecedented global reach, and the huge lead the US enjoys in terms of technological sophistication and military hardware. Realists rightly draw attention to the importance of strategic considerations in understanding American dominance: American hegemony was initiated by the Second World War. and the distinctive liberal order that US hegemony helped to create in its aftermath occurred within the overarching context of the Cold War. Consequently, two temporal considerations are especially germane here: first, American actions, especially during the early phases of the Cold War (as both liberals and Gramscians point out), enjoyed a good deal of legitimacy — at least amongst key allies. In other words, the specific geo-political dynamics of the Cold War constrained and gave a particular direction to American grand strategy, one that is strikingly different to the contemporary period. This leads to a second point: despite the ending of the Cold War and the beginning of an era of 'unipolarity", there has been little winding back of the spatial distribution or reach of American military power. On the contrary, what Chalmers Johnson (2004) describes as an 'empire of bases' has become a permanent, highly institutionalized part of America's overall strategic position.^ One of the continuities of American hegemony, then, has been an accelerating pursuit of military dominance and what Bacevich (2002: 49) has described as the increasing militarization of foreign policy. The actions of the present Bush administration have dramatically highlighted the continuing importance of America's military power, and provided a telling reminder about the importance of agency: the doctrine of pre- emption and the willingness to act unilaterally are distinctive qualities of the Bush administration and testimony to the ideational impact of the *neo-con" advisors that have assumed prominent positions in the Bush administration (Mann 2004). The Bush administration also highlights the way military and economic interests can intersect within a particular administration to shape policy outcomes (Phillips 2004). Consequently, as observers like Bacevich and former National Security Advisor to the Carter administration, Zbigniew Brzezinski, point out, America's promotion of global economic liberalism and pursuit of military domination are deeply inter-linked elements of the US's overall hegemonic position. Crucially, however, even arch realists like Brzezinski (2004: 143) recognize that without legitimacy both the application of military power and the larger project of liberal globalization are imperiled.
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